Failing to develop those work and life skills can have lifelong consequences. “Work itself is the strongest and most effective (workforce development) ‘program,’” the Casey report continued. “Early job experience increases the likelihood of more work in the future.”
Conversely, “Studies show that youth who miss out on an early work experience are more likely to endure unemployment and less likely to achieve higher levels of career attainment later.”
While working teenagers are learning while they are earning, Hicks noted that Indiana’s entire statewide economy is rewarded, and not only because teens are likely to quickly spend their income.
“In Indiana there is a skills gap,” Hicks explained. “Employers over and over talk about the soft skills gap and the lack of experience, and these are factors that can provide a wage premium in the labor market. Those soft skills are easier to teach to young people and are a huge benefit that teens gain from summer employment.”
Hicks emphasized, “Summer employment is a largely beneficial experience for teens to become enriched with those work skills and life skills. Those lifetime benefits swamp whatever money teens are making, and the lack of those soft skills has a long-term, negative impact on the state’s economy.”
While the number of traditional, part-time summer jobs is expanding, Challenger warned that the labor market for teens remains highly competitive. “It is critical that teenagers not wait until the school year ends to start their job search,” Challenger advised. He recommended teenagers visit potential employers instead of relying solely on Internet job postings, network through parents, friends and other community members, and pursue self-made jobs in lawn mowing, baby-sitting and pet care.
“Many mom-and-pop stores do not advertise job openings on the Internet,” Challenger said. “Nor do most families looking for baby-sitters, lawnmowers or house-cleaners. Some of the best opportunities for summer work may be for the odd-jobs entrepreneur.”